How to teach students entrepreneurial thinking and motivate them to become start-ups? You can start with innovative exercises such as grabbing a shark, pitching and a model called IN-bottom.

Professors and assistant professors at University Colleges have different professional backgrounds. They are teachers – but also lawyers, nurses, pedagogues, physiotherapists or social workers. The bachelor students in University Colleges are mostly applying for jobs in the public sector when finishing their studies.

A couple of years ago, the University College (UC) South Denmark developed and started to offer courses for bachelor students wishing to start their own company. The project ends in 2020 and at that time, more than 100 students have acquired new entrepreneurial skills. But still, the embedded culture in terms of employment possibilities in the public sector needs to change amongst teachers and students.

Adapting Aula Emprende in Southern Denmark
In 2018, UC South Denmark seized the opportunity to join the iEER pilot action Aula Emprende to learn about how Aula Emprende operates and teaches the teachers and test out the methods in the iEER regions.

Two teachers from UC South Denmark participated in the Aula Emprende camp in Valencia in autmun 2018. They brought back a lot of inspiration for new ways to teach innovation and entrepreneurship. However, the practices were not directly transferable because of the different culture and tradition at the University College.

Therefore, they developed a local training camp aiming at upgrading the skills of professors or assistant professors in terms of innovation and creativity. The camp was organised as workshops to attract assistant professors who are already in a course to become professors and thus, who might use the methods in future jobs.

Innovative exercises and theory

The innovative approach of the course was based on the design thinking model ‘Costumers’ Journey’ - and in this case ‘Students’ Journey’. Among other things, the participants tried to pitch, to use of an “IN-bottom” (a metaphor of creating lots of approaches to a challenge) and to “throw a shark” (a method of utilising physical activity to support learning processes). These creative and innovative exercises and methods are used to train divergent thinking and training in developing new ideas in order to encourage innovative thinking amongst students.

The exercises were backed up by theory on entrepreneurship, innovation and didactics. Altogether, the objective of the training is to rearm the teachers’ ability to activate the students’ own creativity, innovative competencies and help them to generate ideas in daily education and in entrepreneurial learning and activities.

The development of society requires both at national and international level that students acquire entrepreneurial and innovative skills. The students are looking for educational institutions that can facilitate their development of these skills. Educational institutions need to be able to offer the facilities so in the end the project will support both UC South Denmark’s strategic objectives and at a more general level, the need for more innovative and creative skills amongst students.

This story is brought to you by the Region of Southern Denmark.